DECATUR — A box of nails, a counter top, even a door knob can mean a lot to someone who has never owned a home.
Habitat for Humanity has been helping people achieve homeownership for nearly 50 years. The Decatur nonprofit organization provides assistance in finding a location, building the house and setting up a mortgage, all through volunteers and donations. The new homeowners provide sweat equity for their houses and hopefully for others who were once in their shoes.
In the past, organizations, church groups and businesses fundraised for Habitat, then gave the money to the agency to support the most recent house.
“We’ve started building the house before we had all of the funds necessary to build a house,” said Habitat office manager Tanya Haubner. “But this time we want to go virtual.”
The agency’s new way of fundraising will approach the financial responsibility piece by piece. “On our website, you can go and buy a 2-by-4, or a front door, or the flooring, sink, a cabinet, whatever it is, pieces and parts that we need to build a house, you can buy that for us,” Haubner said. “When we have all of our items purchased off of our wish list, we’ll have enough money to actually build the house.”
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Community members often rally together to fundraise for Habitat for Humanity. One of their latest homes was built through the efforts of Dennis School who raised approximately $30,000 for a house on Wood Street.
“You’re not in particular helping design the home and decorate the home,” Haubner said about the community’s fundraising contribution. “But anything from a $5 box of nails to a $500 roof, we have something for everybody.”
Business and organizational sponsorships are available for the larger donations. “Anywhere from $500 to $5,000, they’re going to get some additional things,” Haubner said about the potential for advertising. “They are going to get some social media mentions on our Facebook page.”
Contributors can have more of an impact on building the house in other ways as well. Volunteers are always welcome.
For example, the MacArthur High School and Eisenhower High School vocational building classes finished the current house, according to Ed Smith, executive director for Decatur’s Habitat for Humanity.
“Everything from the bare frame, they had virtually done this house,” he said about the current home.
The community’s assistance will always be needed; however, contributors will now be able to choose where their funds go. “It’s kind of fun to say ‘I got to buy the doorknobs for that house’,” Haubner said.
The Habitat for Humanity website will show the progress of the upcoming house by displaying a mock image of a house as it rises from the ground, similar to the large rising thermometers used to gauge other organizations’ fundraising goals.
The new homeowners will still have a mortgage. Many do not qualify for a traditional loan, but make too much money to qualify for assistance. As a homeowner, they are able to build credit needed for other purchases.
“Our average Habitat payment for a house is about $500 a month and that’s including their taxes and insurance,” Smith said.
“We just make it reasonable for them to own a house,” Haubner said. “Sometimes that’s all that they need is just a little leg up on achieving something. It will make a huge difference in everything else in their lives.”
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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR